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Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Concert, the picnic, and the rest of the weekend

On Saturday, I drove out to Front Royal fairly early in the morning. I was actually quite pleased with myself. I rose early, showered and put on my suit, packed for the weekend, and was out the door in plenty of time for me to casually drive to Front Royal and arrive there in time for choir practice. It was a nice feeling -- no rushing, no "Darn-it-I-should-have-gotten-up-earlier"s, and no speeding. I liked that feeling. I'll have to try being responsible (i.e., not lazy) more often!

Anyway, I met up with the Palestrina Choir and we practiced for about an hour-and-a-half. Practice didn't seem to go too terribly well, but some of us were still a bit groggy (myself included), and thus our voices were not quite ready to cooperate. Dr. P seemed to be a little bit on edge, because we were performing these pieces in a concert in just a few hours, and, although we had them down, we were still messing up here and there, and we didn't quite sound like a unified whole...

Anyway, after practice, I went to Mass, and then into the Commons. John E. had come down from PA for the weekend, so I chatted with him for a little while, and then at 12:30 PM, we loaded up the vans and drove out to Bethesda, MD. We arrived around 2 PM, and practiced in the church. Once again, it was not one of our best practices. Normally, a bad practice doesn't phase me too much, because it's just a practice, but we were cutting it close, and even I was getting a bit worried.

After the choir and schola practiced, Jacinta W. practiced on the organ until about 4 PM, and then confessions began. While she was practicing, the bulk of us went outside and enjoyed the weather. I went back inside and to confession when they began, and then I did my best to avoid the pictures. (Call me what you will, I'm rather self-conscious about the fact that I'm not very photogenic.) Then I went to their 5:00 PM Mass.

This Mass was definitely sub-par in quality to any of the Masses that I attend, whether at Christendom, St. John's, St. Rita's, St. Andrew's -- they've all got them beat hands down. These other parishes that I mentioned do things by the book, whereas this church seemed to be making much more of a show about the Mass than anything else. It was kind of disturbing (the four altar girls didn't help matters either). I spent most of the time thinking to myself, "Just walk out. Leave. They won't mind. Look at the people around me. If they don't mind the way that they are dressed and the way that they are acting, then they certainly won't mind if a properly dressed man leaves because he's offended." But I couldn't bring myself to do it. There was a tinge of reverence for what was happening, and that tinge was enough to make me stay -- but only barely...

Anyway, the choir was supposed to sing the Communion meditation, so I went upstairs with them. Just about that time, the soloist began singing. Sounds rather counter-productive, but it's true. We went upstairs to the choir loft, and then waited through an entire hymn. When it was over, we sang the chant Tantum Ergo, followed by Maurice Duruflé's composition of Tantum Ergo. The congregation looked so shocked that another musical sound was playing in the church, instead of a piano and soloist, and most of them turned around and looked up at us. I saw more than half of those looking at us inquisitively, and the rest were smiling. The people who didn't look up looked frozen, either because they hadn't heard real music like this in some time, or else because they were uncertain about what to do, say, or think. When we were finished, silence reigned for about a second, and then the priest concluded Mass.

Immediately after Mass, we went out a side door of the church, and formed a line to assume our positions. Our concert began immediately after Mass. The priest invited the congregation to stay and listen, but most of them fled (in their defense, the weather outside was simply magnificent). The concert was being offered as part of a Sacred Music series that the church was putting on. I think that we were the fourth choir on their list (they were offering a concert a week), but I could very well be wrong about that. Anyway, whatever the situation was, we arranged themselves in order, and said a quick prayer. We were introduced, and when we came out, we all did a genuflection towards the tabernacle before we began (fortunately, the tabernacle was in the middle of the sanctuary, and not hidden away).

The music we did consisted of the following:After this, Jacinta W. played her three organ pieces:After her three pieces, the choir got back up to finish the concert with:The concert went, in my humble opinion, extremely well. I only heard one glitch, and that was very minor and corrected immediately. But then again, I was so focused on singing my part and blending with the girls next to me (Bridget R. and Christine C.) that I was only watching my music and Dr. P. I also made frequent eye contact with JD, because he's a fellow bass who was standing right across from me, and eye cues are very important. It makes things much easier for me if I can see a fellow section member while I'm singing. Hearing is good, but seeing is a big plus, too.

After the concert, Paul, MC and I packed up the stuff and brought it out to the van. We left the church just before 8:00 PM, and made it back to Christendom just after 9:00 PM. That night, Coffee House was going on at Christendom, but I didn't go. I was a bit tired, so I went to JD's place for a while, where John E. and Breanna H. were, and Emma soon joined us. I was also rather hungry. I sing better on an empty stomach then when I'm full, so I hadn't eaten anything all day. I went to Giant and picked up a sandwich for me, Dr. Pepper for JD, and some Starburst for John. I also grabbed some Doritos, since they were priced 2-for-1. :)

Truth be told, I guess that it took a second trip for the Starburst -- I had completely forgotten about them when I went into the store the first time, and I was almost back to JD's when I remembered them, so I turned around and went back to the store. I'm so ridiculously forgetful sometimes.

After eating and visiting for a while, I drove Emma back to her dorm, and then went back to JD's where Josepha had just arrived. I was pretty tired, so I completely zonked out while she was there. I had no intention of being rude; my spirit was willing to visit, but my eyes said, "I think not..."

The next morning, I woke up to JD asking me if I was going to go to choir practice. It had already started, and I was late.

After choir practice and Mass, I went to LD's in town and had breakfast with JD, Josepha, John E., Brenna H. and another girl whom I should know, but cannot remember her name. We had a good time there, and then headed back to Christendom for the Palestrina choir practice. Following this, I went outside with Lizzie, Christine, and MC to play catch with a water bottle. We ended up having a bit of a water fight, because the cap on the bottle got loose and splashed all over some people. Out of all of us, I think Christine was the driest and Lizzie was the wettest. The poor girl had the worst luck when it came to catching the water bottle when the cap was the loosest. Nevertheless, it was still pretty funny. :)

I was invited to St. Theresa's dorm for an outdoor picnic in the afternoon, so at about 2:30 PM, I headed over there after changing from my suit into jeans and a T-shirt. There were a lot of people over there: Emma and Sarah F., Lizzie, Andy C., Andrew T., Beth F., MC, Laurel M. -- it was a rather large group of people. JD brought along Breanna H. and John E., and a few minutes later, Larry H. showed up as well, bringing the total up to about 18 people, I think. I helped out a little bit with what needed to be done, but for the most part I was there for the entertainment. Mrs. Mary Alice R. (a professor at Christendom, and a good friend of all of ours) came over for a little while and chatted with Laurel, Lizzie, Emma, and me. When the croquet game ended, the football throwing began, and Mrs. R. decided that it was a good time to make her exit before she got hit.

I joined in the tossing of the pigskin, even though I had the worst throwing arm out there -- yes, even more so than the girls. The group changed around a little bit, and it became a game of keep away, with MC being the piggy in the middle, and then eventually died out. I think it had pretty much reached the end of the game when MC and Andy C practiced their climbing on the back porch. Although they put up a gallant effort, they were pretty slow in climbing up the back porch to rescue the fair damsels in distress. I poked fun at them for that. As expected, they challenged me to do better and climb up. I told them that there was no way that I could do it -- I'm not strong enough to act like a monkey.

This ended, and somehow or another, it led to John and MC leaping over Lizzie and Emma where they were lying (completely unsuspecting) on the ground. Screams erupted from them as they saw the two men jump over them, and guffaws erupted from the guys. Then, JD and I joined the girls on the ground, and gave John and MC a bigger challenge (JD and I were on the ends), and they both cleared us just fine. It was highly amusing, although I'm sure that the guys got a bigger kick out of it than the girls. Anyway, it was getting to that point of the evening, so I headed back to the apartment. I wanted to get there before it got too late...
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